95 inspiring engineers and technologist of the past, present, and future

Our inspirational engineers and technologists are listed below, alphabetically by first name (or pre-nominal title).

 

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

1. Ada Lovelace

Lovelace was a mathematician.

The daughter of English poet Lord Byron, she worked with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine.

Her Notes on the Analytical Engine, published in 1843, described the first computer program.

Lovelace also corresponded with other scientists of her day, including Michael Faraday.

She suffered from ill health and died in 1852 at the age of 37.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

2. Alan Turing

Turing was a mathematician and computer scientist.

Known as the father of modern computing, he developed ‘Turing machines’, which can be adapted to simulate the logic of any computer algorithm and are the basis of all modern computing systems.

During the Second World War he worked at Bletchley Park, where he had a significant role in breaking the Enigma code by designing the ‘bombe’.

After the war, Turing worked on the development of the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) at the National Physical Laboratory.

In 1948 he moved to Manchester where he worked on the Manchester Mark 1 computer.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

3. Alexander Graham Bell

A scientist and inventor, Bell pioneered communication systems for the deaf.

In 1875 he developed a simple receiver that could turn electricity into sound.

He was granted a patent for his telephone in 1876 and founded the Bell Telephone Company the following year.

Bell also worked on other inventions in the fields of communications and aeronautics and was one of the founder members of the National Geographic Society.

4. Amit Gupta

Electrical engineer Gupta has worked for Bechtel Corporation, Samsung Heavy Industries, Delphi Automotive Systems, and Vestas Wind Systems.

In August 2012 he joined Rolls-Royce Singapore Pte. Ltd as Chief of Rolls-Royce Electrical.

His research interests include power electronics, drives, power systems, and system integration.

He has won several awards, been granted more than 20 patents, and published around 80 papers.

He plays an active role in organising electrical power conferences in Asia.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

5. Amy Johnson

Aviation pioneer and engineer Johnson was the first woman pilot to fly solo from England to Australia.

She started taking flying lessons while working as a secretary and was the first woman in the UK to be awarded a ground engineer’s licence.

Her record-breaking flights included London to Moscow, Moscow to Tokyo, and London to Cape Town.

Johnson was President of the Women’s Engineering Society from 1935-1937.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary and was killed when her aeroplane crashed on a routine flight.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

6. Andrew Viterbi

Viterbi is an American electrical engineer and businessman who co-founded Qualcomm Inc.

In 1967 Viterbi proposed the Viterbi algorithm to decode convolutionally encoded data.

It is still widely used in mobile phones for error-correcting codes, as well as for speech recognition, DNA analysis, and other applications of Hidden Markov models.

Viterbi is also the co-developer of CDMA (code-division multiple access), the most widely used mobile phone technology in America.

Image courtesy of NASA

Image courtesy of NASA

7. Annie Easley

Mathematician and computer scientist Easley began her career in 1955 at the Lewis Research Centre, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now known as NASA).

She started as a 'human computer' but quickly moved to computer coding as new technologies were introduced.

In her 34 years at the agency, she worked on projects including the Centaur rocket, power technologies, and energy problems.

Easley was active in outreach for NASA, encouraging students to consider careers in STEM.

Her work helped lay the foundations for later space-shuttle and satellite launches. In 2021 a crater on the moon was named after her.

8. Avi Schiffmann

Schiffmann began teaching himself how to code when he was seven years old, mostly by watching YouTube videos.

While at high school he created what has become of the world's largest COVID-19 tracking websites.

Now a university student, Schiffmann has also made more than 30 other websites, including some tracking and providing information on Black Lives Matter protests across the USA and the 2020 presidential election.

He was offered US $8 million to put ads on his site, which he turned down.

Image courtesy of University of Essex

Image courtesy of University of Essex

9. Barrie Chaplin

Chaplin was a pioneer of modern electronics.

He wrote some of the first circuits for the transistor and invented the world’s first transistorised digital computer and transistorised sampling oscilloscope.

He also developed active noise and vibration cancellation technologies.

In 1966 Chaplin founded the Department of Electrical Engineering at Essex University – the first industrial, self-funded engineering centre.

Chaplin also developed an Electronic Systems A-Level.

10. Boniface Munene

Founder of the Tukuze Africa Foundation educational programme, Munene makes STEM learning accessible to secondary school children in Kenya.

Munene also founded the Engineering Club at the Meru National Polytechnic to empower engineering students by organising educational trips, running mentorship programmes, and holding conferences and talks.

Image courtesy of 'Sama Kai Sundifu

Image courtesy of 'Sama Kai Sundifu

11. Callum Daniel

An entrepreneur and coder, Daniel became CEO of iCode Robots at just seven years old.

His technology-based company focuses on giving children of all backgrounds the opportunity to engage with a wide range of current and future technology.

Daniel has partnered with technology firms to develop and execute free tech sessions for more than 1,000 children.

In 2021 he won the IET's Young STEM Personality of the Year Award.

12. Cel Welch

An engineer and LGBTQ+ rights activist, Welch is the founder of Queer Engineer International, which is a non-profit global network of STEM professionals and students.

They will be one of the first trans PhD recipients of an Ivy League School.

Welch is passionate about using engineering to improve healthcare accessibility.

Their focus on "citizen STEM" helps to promote the fact that anyone can be an engineer – they play a huge role in inspiring and representing the LQBTQ+ community within engineering.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

13. Charles Babbage

Babbage was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge as well as a computer pioneer.

In the 1820s he constructed a ‘Difference Engine’, which performed mathematical calculations.

He also designed a more complex ‘Analytical Engine’, which would perform calculations based on a system of punched cards and would include a memory unit.

The mathematician Ada Lovelace wrote a program for the Analytical Engine, but the machine wasn't built during Babbage’s lifetime.

14. Chen Mao Davies

Mao Davies is the software engineer and CEO who founded LatchAid, a FemTech start-up that uses smart technology to support women during their breastfeeding and early motherhood journey.

She developed cutting-edge technology for sustainability and for architectural and product design.

She was also involved in creating visual effects for feature films including Gravity and Blade Runner 2049, which won Oscar and BAFTA awards for Best Visual Effects.

Image courtesy of Alpha Manufacturing

Image courtesy of Alpha Manufacturing

15. Chloe Sales

It was while working in a warehouse that Sales first became interested in welding.

She then embarked on a welding apprenticeship with Stafford-based Alpha Manufacturing and became the first woman to train as a welder at Stoke on Trent College.

In addition to her welding job, she carries out an ambassadorial role, visiting schools and colleges to enlighten and enthuse young students about her welding career journey.

Sales won her college's STEM Apprentice of the Year Award in 2019.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Image courtesy of Getty Images

16. Claude Shannon

Known as the father of information theory, Shannon studied Mathematics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan and MIT.

His doctoral thesis set out the application of Boolean algebra and binary arithmetic to the electrical control of relays – the foundation of digital computing theory.

Shannon worked on cryptography during the Second World War and met Alan Turing when he visited the US in 1943.

Five years later, Shannon published A Mathematical Theory of Communication, which is widely regarded as the beginning of information theory.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

17. Dame Caroline Haslett

Haslett influenced government policy on women in engineering and technology.

After training in an engineering works, she became the first secretary of the Women's Engineering Society in 1919 and co-founded the Electrical Association for Women in 1924.

She was the first woman to chair the Electrical Development Association and to be appointed to the British Electricity Authority.

She campaigned for women's rights in the UK and internationally, and was President of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

18. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Northern Irish astrophysicist Bell-Burnell discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967 when she was a postgraduate student.

Although this discovery eventually earned the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974, she was not one of the recipients.

She served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics.

In 2018 she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her contributions to the discovery of pulsars and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community.

She then donated her £2.3 million prize money to help female, minority, and refugee students seeking to become physics researchers.

Image courtesy of Geoffrey Swaine - Rex Features

Image courtesy of Geoffrey Swaine - Rex Features

19. Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley

Shirley arrived in the UK at the age of five as a Kindertransport refugee.

Mathematics wasn't taught at the Oswestry Girls' High School but after passing an assessment she was allowed to take lessons at the local boys' school.

She worked for the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill, where she built computers and wrote code.

In 1962 Shirley founded the Freelance Programmers software company.

She received the IET Mountbatten Medal in 1999 and was awarded a DBE in 2000 for services to IT.

Image courtesy of Rapsberry Pi

Image courtesy of Rapsberry Pi

20. Eben Upton

Upton is the founder and a former trustee of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a British charity that promotes the study of basic computer science in schools.

He is now CEO of Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd, which runs the engineering and trading activities of the Foundation.

His former roles include technical director and ASIC architect for Broadcom and Director of Studies for Computer Science at St John's College, Cambridge.

21. Edward William Golding

In 1933 Golding, a lecturer in engineering at the University of Nottingham published Electrical Measurements and Measuring Instruments, which became the standard textbook on the subject.

He saw wind power as a solution to the oil and gas shortages of the 1950s – a view that was decades ahead of its time – and produced the first engineering textbook on wind power.

Golding headed up the Wind Power and Rural Electrification department at the Electrical Research Association (ERA).

He also worked on the international development of electrical engineering as Overseas Liaison Officer.

22. Ejay Nsugbe

Nsugbe is a multidisciplinary engineer who has worked in industry and academia.

He regularly publishes his work and is often part of diverse international partnerships.

An award-winning STEM ambassador and former school governor, Nsugbe has a keen eye for development and is a four-time chartered professional: CEng, CMath, CPhys, and CSci.

23. Elena Rodríguez Falcón

After nearly a decade in industry in Mexico, Rodriguez Falcón joined the University of Sheffield in 2002.

She designed and directed degree programmes in mechanical engineering with business and enterprise.

She founded the University of Sheffield Enterprise, was Director of Enterprise Education and Director of Women In Engineering, became a professor in 2012, and two years later was appointed Director of Communications and External Relations for Engineering.

In 2018 Rodriguez Falcón became President and CEO of New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMITE).

She has won multiple awards for education, equality, and leadership.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

24. Ellen Ochoa

A specialist in the development of optical systems, Ochoa worked as a research engineer at Sandia National Laboratories and at NASA's Ames Research Center.

In April 1993 she served as mission specialist aboard the STS-56 mission of the space shuttle Discovery, becoming the first Hispanic woman to travel into space.

After retiring from spacecraft operations, Ochoa served as Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center and later became the first Hispanic director of the Center and second female director.

Image courtesy of Outline-Corbis

Image courtesy of Outline-Corbis

25. Elon Musk

Musk became interested in computer programming at school in South Africa, then emigrated to Canada to study Physics and Economics at Queen’s University.

In 1995 he founded the software company Zip2 with his brother, which was later sold to Compaq.

In 1999 he co-founded X.com, later renamed PayPal, which was sold to eBay in 2002.

In the same year, Musk founded SpaceX.

He joined Tesla Motors as Chairman and Product Architect in 2004 and became the CEO in 2008.

26. Eneni Abban

Entrepreneur Abban is founder of Anime & Chill and The Techover digital platform.

She is a robotics engineer and award-winning speaker who is passionate about removing negative stereotypes that limit opportunities for women.

Abban has also funded and organised coding, robotics, and wellbeing workshops across Africa, England and virtually, to make STEM learning accessible for all.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

27. Eric Laithwaite

Known as the father of Maglev, Laithwaite was Professor of Electrical Engineering at Imperial College London, where he developed the linear motor.

He also developed a magnetic levitation system that appeared in the James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me.

When Laithwaite gave the 1974 Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on the subject of gyroscopes, he controversially claimed that gyroscopic motion did not follow the accepted laws of physics.

Laithwaite was also a keen entomologist.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

28. Frank Kameny

Kameny graduated with a doctorate in astronomy in 1956, he was appointed to a position with the US Army Map Service but was dismissed when he refused to confirm his sexual orientation.

Kameny became a political activist, picketing the White House in 1965.

He brought the first civil rights action in the US based on sexual orientation.

He was instrumental in changing the laws on the criminalisation of homosexuality and the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM in 1973.

Along with Barbara Gittings, in 2006 he was awarded the first John E Fryer Award for his contributions to mental health.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

29. Gitanjali Rao

Rao is an inventor, innovator and TIME’s first-ever Kid of the Year.

She has been fascinated about finding clean water solutions since the age of 11.

She was recognised on Forbes 30 under 30 for her development of the Tethys device, which is based on carbon nanotubes that send water-quality information via Bluetooth.

She is passionate about tackling societal issues and encouraging young innovators to create a global community to solve real-world problems.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

30. Grace Hopper

Hopper was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer in 1944.

She invented the first compiler for a computer programming language and is known for her development of COBOL.

She is credited with popularising the term ‘debugging’ for fixing computer glitches (inspired by an actual moth removed from the computer).

Hopper was the first woman to be elected a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society.

She was a Rear Admiral in the Navy and on retiring in 1986 she was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

In 2016 she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

31. Guion Bluford

Bluford is the first African-American man to travel into space.

He was selected to become a NASA astronaut in January 1978.

He completed his first voyage to space in 1983, as a crew member on the Challenger STS-8 mission, which launched from the Kennedy Space Centre.

Between 1983 and 1992 Bluford travelled to space four times.

He has doctorate in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

32. Hertha Ayrton

Ayrton attended Girton College and subsequently studied electrical engineering at Finsbury Technical College.

She carried out research into the electric arc lamp and the action of vortices in air and water.

It was her paper on the arc lamp that saw her elected as the first woman member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1899.

In 1906, Ayrton was awarded the Royal Society’s Hughes Medal for her work on sand ripples.

She used this research to develop the Ayrton Fan, designed to expel gas from the trenches during the First World War.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

33. Isambard Kingdom Brunel

A civil and mechanical engineer, Brunel is known as one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution.

He revolutionised public transport and modern engineering.

Among his achievements were the Great Western Railway; many bridges (including the Clifton Suspension Bridge) and tunnels; the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship (the SS Great Britain); and the SS Great Eastern steamship – this was the largest ship afloat until the beginning of the 20th century and played a key role in laying the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable from 1865 to 1866.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

34. James Clerk Maxwell

Mathematical physicist Maxwell was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at Marischal College, Aberdeen, in 1856 and later Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at King’s College, London.

In 1871 he became the first Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge and designed the Cavendish Laboratory.

Two years later he published his celebrated book, A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, in which he presented his equations for electromagnetic fields.

This work is regarded as the beginning of field theory.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

35. James Watt

Watt began his career as an instrument maker.

In 1764 he was given a Newcomen steam engine to repair.

He realised that the engine design was inefficient and added a condensing chamber to rectify the problem.

In 1775 Watt joined with Matthew Boulton to produce the patented Boulton-Watt engines.

Watt also developed the rotary engine, the double-action engine, and the steam indicator.

The SI unit of power, the watt, is named after this mechanical engineer and inventor in recognition of the fact that his improved steam engine design was key to the Industrial Revolution.

36. Jenny McLaughlin

McLaughlin has long worked within the aviation industry, mainly at Heathrow airport in a number of departments including environment, airside and infrastructure.

She developed JEDI (Joint Enterprise De-icing Initiative) with Air Traffic, Airside Operations, and British Airways, which are now of British Airways operation.

She is also the lead for Heathrow’s Disability Network.

McLaughlin is passionate about inclusivity and project management and believes each person should have an equitable seat at the table.

37. Jessica Okoro

Founder of the multi-award-winning organisation BeScience STEM, Okoro encourages people from all backgrounds to engage in STEM using innovative and creative techniques.

With more than 1,000 volunteers, BeScience STEM reached more than 10,000 people in its first two years.

Okoro has worked with Fortune 100 companies and her work has been endorsed by leaders who have enabled her to share her ideas globally.

Image courtesy of NASA

Image courtesy of NASA

38. Jim Lovell

Lovell, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, worked initially as a test pilot.

He was serving as a flight instructor and safety officer when he was selected by NASA for the crewed space program.

In 1968, as command module pilot of Apollo 8, he became one of the first three astronauts to fly to and orbit the Moon.

He was also the first person to fly into space four times.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

39. John Logie Baird

Scottish engineer, inventor and television pioneer Baird gave the first working demonstration of mechanical television in London, in 1926.

He also invented the first publicly demonstrated colour television system and the first purely electronic colour television picture tube.

In 1927 he founded the Baird Television Development Company, which the following year was the first to transmit television between London and New York.

In 1937 the system was dropped by the BBC in favour of the Marconi-EMI system.

Image courtesy of Merika Green

Image courtesy of Merika Green

40. Jordan Brompton

Brompton is a marketing director with a passion for renewable energy and sustainability.

Along with Lee Sutton, she co-founded myenergi in 2016, a designer and manufacturer of renewable energy products that increase the self-consumption of green energy.

She is the author of Sparki, which aims to teach children about the effects of climate change and the importance of renewable energy.

41. Juana Tapel

Tapel has been a visible figure in the Philippine engineering community since the late 1990s, when she became Founding Treasurer of the Young Engineers of the Philippines.

In 2010 she was appointed to the Professional Regulatory Board for Agricultural Engineering – the first woman engineer in such a position since 1964.

Tapel is an active participant in the Philippine Commission of Higher Education's Technical Panel for Engineering and Technology.

Image courtesy of NASA

Image courtesy of NASA

42. Katherine Johnson

Mathematician Johnson joined the Langley Laboratory at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953 and was quickly assigned to the Flight Research Division.

She conducted trajectory analysis for America’s first human spaceflight. In 1962 she was brought in to check the orbital equations that would control the trajectory of John Glenn’s orbital mission.

She was the first woman to be credited as a co-author of a NASA research report.

Johnson also worked on the Apollo Lunar Module, focusing on the navigation of the return flight.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

43. Katsuko Saruhashi

Geochemist Saruhashi was the first to accurately measure carbonic acid levels in seawater, showing that the Pacific Ocean emits more CO₂ than it absorbs.

She also measured the levels of radioactive isotopes in seawater, demonstrating the environmental impact of testing at Bikini Atoll.

Her work led to a ban on above-ground nuclear testing.

Saruhashi was the first woman to graduate with a doctorate in science from the University of Tokyo and founded the Society of Japanese Women Scientists.

She was the first woman elected to the Science Council of Japan and the first woman to be awarded the Miyake Prize in Geochemistry.

44. Ken Evans

Evans holds the Chair of Materials Engineering at the University of Exeter and is Director of Exeter Advanced Technologies and Director of the Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing.

He has conducted extensive research on the theoretical and experimental investigation of novel materials, including their processing, fabrication, structure, and properties, as well as their engineering and industrial applications.

He has published more than 170 research papers, holds 12 patents, and is recognised as an international expert on auxetic materials.

Image courtesy of Sane-Seven

Image courtesy of Sane-Seven

45. Larissa Suzuki

Suzuki is a computer scientist and ethical artificial intelligence (AI) engineer who has raised the profile of female and neurodivergent engineers throughout her career.

She has mentored over 400 women and founded numerous women in technology groups.

Suzuki's career includes AI, smart cities, and emerging technologies, and she is currently the Head of Data and AI Practice at Google.

She has received many awards and recognitions for her contributions to engineering and has set up initiatives to make STEM learning accessible for all.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

46. Laura Annie Willson

Willson was a housebuilder, a founding member of the Women’s Engineering Society, and the first female member of the Federation of House Builders.

She was imprisoned twice: once for taking part in a weavers' strike and once as a suffragette.

In WW1 she was joint director of a lathe-making factory where she established a works canteen to make sure women workers were properly nourished.

In 1917 she became one of the first women to receive an MBE for this pioneering work.

She built several low-cost housing estates in Yorkshire and Surrey, which were all installed with the latest gas and electrical appliances.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

47. Lewis Howard Latimer

Latimer was a self-taught engineer, inventor, and draughtsman who worked on electric lighting, air conditioning, and improvements to railway toilets.

Latimer trained as a draughtsman with a patent law firm and worked with Alexander Graham Bell on his patents.

He later worked with Hiram Maxim and Thomas Edison as a draughtsman and manager.

He published Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System in 1890.

Latimer’s inventions included improvements to electric lighting and an evaporative air conditioner.

He is an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

48. Linda Miller

Construction director and civil engineer Miller is responsible for leading some of the largest and most complex engineering projects for the Sydney Metro.

started her career in the United States Army, where she flew helicopters.

She then earned a master's degree in engineering from the University of California and worked on London's Connaught Tunnel before moving to Australia.

In 2016 Miller was selected as one of the 50 most influential women in engineering.

The following year she received an OBE for services to engineering and promoting gender equality.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

49. Lord Kelvin

In 1846 Thomson was appointed to the Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, where he taught and conducted his research for 53 years and founded the first university laboratory to be freely available to students.

In 1892 he was made Baron Kelvin of Largs.

Kelvin was an advisor on many projects, including the first transatlantic telegraph cable.

He also designed a series of telegraph instruments and a marine compass.

Kelvin was President of the IEE in 1874, 1889, and 1907.

50. Marjem Chatterton

Chatterton was born in Warsaw, Poland, and studied civil engineering in Haifa, Israel.

She emigrated to Zimbabwe, where she designed reinforced concrete buildings including urban skyscrapers and many industrial facilities for the cotton, fertiliser, and sugar industries.

Chatterton's buildings still define the skyline of the capital, Harare, and her last major project – the 26-storey Reserve Bank – is the tallest office building in the country.

She made a big impact at the Institution of Structural Engineers: she was the first woman to become a Fellow and the first woman to win the Andrews Prize.

51. Mark Goudie

At 29, electrical engineer Goudie became the youngest person to be elected as an IET Fellow.

Since joining Atkins in 2015 on its graduate scheme, he’s been recognised for designing the innovative Wind Energy Reservoir Storage (WERS) system that would seek to repurpose aging oil and gas infrastructure.

He has been a passionate supporter of STEM initiatives in the UK: he is a Trustee of the Glasgow Science Centre; VisitScotland’s Young Legend for the energy sector; and Chair of the IET Horizons Bursary.

Image courtesy of NASA

Image courtesy of NASA

52. Mary Jackson

In 1951 Jackson joined the Langley Research Center, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now NASA) as a research mathematician.

In 1953 she began working with the Supersonic Pressure Tunnel.

After petitioning the City of Hampton to allow her to take night classes on an all-white programme, in 1958 she gained the qualifications she needed to become NASA’s first female black engineer.

Jackson worked on airflow in aircraft design and authored 12 papers for NASA.

In 1979 she took a demotion to work on equal opportunities at NASA, encouraging women in STEM careers.

In 2019 she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

53. Mary Somerville

Somerville was a scientist and writer who published some of the most popular scientific books of the 19th century and predicted the discovery of Neptune.

She published her first paper on astronomy with the Royal Society in 1826: The magnetic properties of the violet rays of the solar spectrum.

Five years later she published a mathematical account of the solar system: The Mechanism of the Heavens.

This was followed in 1834 by the popular On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences.

Somerville was elected as one of the first female members of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835.

She also wrote the first English textbook on physical geography, which was published in 1848.

54. Melissa Ahmed

Chartered engineer Ahmed is Co-founder and Managing Director of Techwuman – an engineering consultancy specialising in design engineering for the physical security of critical national infrastructure.

The company has a mission to empower women to pursue a career in engineering, improve gender parity and promote STEM.

Passionate about being a role model for engineers, other young entrepreneurs, females from ethnic minorities, and the next generation, she devotes considerable time and energy to delivering motivational talks, sharing her experiences, and providing guidance.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

55. Michael Faraday

Despite having no formal education, Faraday became a skilled analytical chemist and in 1823 discovered that chlorine could be liquefied.

Then in 1825, he discovered a new substance, known today as benzene.

Faraday had built two devices in 1821 to produce what he called electromagnetic rotation – 10 years later, in a series of experiments, he discovered electromagnetic induction (his 'induction ring' was the first electric transformer) and magneto-electric induction (the production of a steady electric current).

He also stated the First and Second Laws of Electrolysis, which laid the foundations of the electrochemistry industry.

He was passionate about educating the public on science and in 1825 initiated the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.

56. Mimi Nwosu

Civil engineer Nwosu won the Institution of Civil Engineers Rising Star Award in 2020 and the Women Leaders Association Rising Star in STEM Award in 2021.

She was also included in the Women's Engineering Society Top 50 Women in Engineering 2021 list.

She is passionate about community engagement and social mobility.

Nwosu previously owned her own careers advisory company and arranged a STEM outreach programme.

She has also supported over 700 students and graduates with CVs, cover letters and interview techniques to assist with gaining roles in the engineering and construction industry.

A strong advocate for women in engineering, Nwosu uses her social media presence to share blogs and videos about her work as an engineer to engage with audiences across the globe.

57. Morris Mbetsa

Mbetsa created tech company Numeral IOT and at 28 he started manufacturing Africa’s first flying taxi – a drone that can carry one passenger for around 25 minutes at speeds of up to 120 km an hour.

His invention overcomes problems associated with road traffic and poor road infrastructure in Africa.

It also enhances the delivery of critical products and services.

A self-taught engineer, Mbetsa claims technology is his life.

He is now working on an air traffic control system to improve communication between the flying taxis.

58. Natalie Desty

While working as Director of Maritime Engineering at a large recruitment company, Desty developed STEM Returners.

This programme supports returning STEM professionals following a career break, while at the same time helping employers to recruit, develop and retain top talent.

It also aims to redress the gender imbalance within STEM and to work with employers on viewing CV gaps in a different way.

She was one of Make it in Great Britain’s ’30 under 30’ prominent people in engineering, and one of Management Todays '35 under 35’ leading women in business.

59. Nick Hunn

Mobile and wireless communications specialist Hunn has been involved in starting two companies: Grey Cell Systems and EZURiO.

His key areas of interest include eHealth in the development of consumer medical devices; smart energy; machine-to-machine and IoT applications; and the emerging markets of wearable and hearable technology.

He served as Vice Chairman of the Mobile Data Association, promoting the role of mobile eHealth.

He has also led a number of Bluetooth, ZigBee and Continua working groups.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

60. Nikola Tesla

In 1882 Tesla started working for the Continental Edison Company in Paris on the installation of incandescent lighting across the city.

He also used his knowledge of engineering and physics to design and build improved versions of generating dynamos and motors.

In 1884 he emigrated to the United States to work with Thomas Edison.

He soon struck out on his own and his patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse.

He worked on X-rays and investigated the potential of wireless communication and power.

Tesla is the SI unit of magnetic flux density.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

61. Oliver Heaviside

Heaviside started his career as a telegraph clerk in 1868 and went on to conduct his own research on telegraphy and signal transmission using experimentation, mathematics and vector analysis.

Heaviside predicted the existence of an ionised reflective layer in the atmosphere that would bounce radio signals back to earth (the Kennelly-Heaviside layer).

He invented a new technique for solving differential equations, developed vector calculus and reformulated Maxwell's equations.

He made a huge impact on telecommunications, mathematics and science, and was awarded the IET’s first Faraday Medal in 1922.

62. Oluwatobi Oyinlola

Oyinlola is an award-winning, Nigerian-born inventor and experienced embedded hardware and systems engineer.

He was a member of the engineering team working on Elon Musk’s Hyperloop.

In 2018 and 2019 Oyinlola was named by Avance Media as one of the 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians.

In 2019 he was part of a group of young inventors who built the world's first solar-powered outdoor workstation to be equipped with IoT.

In all, he has invented and brought more than 15 IoT-enabled hardware products to market.

63. Perry Alagappan

While at high school, Alagappan was the lead author of a water filter that absorbs more than 99% of metals from samples.

Once saturated, the filter can be washed with a mild household chemical, like vinegar, and reused.

He won the 2015 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for this invention.

In 2019 he completed a degree in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.

Keen to see the technology scaled for wider use, Alagappan wants to launch it as open-source technology that others can use and build on in their research.

64. Ronjon Nag

Smartphone pioneer Nag invented interactive systems that led to breakthroughs in the application of speech recognition, handwriting recognition, predictive text and touch screens for mobile devices.

He is the founder of the R42 Institute, which invents, informs and invests.

He is also an educator and coach who is committed to inclusive and accessible education.

In 2014 he received the IET's Mountbatten Medal in recognition of his influence on the creation of the modern mobile phone industry.

Image courtesy of Steve Etherington

Image courtesy of Steve Etherington

65. Rosie Wait

After completing her master's degree in Engineering in 2009, Wait went on to work for several F1 teams.

Her first role was Vehicle Dynamics Engineer at McLaren Racing, where she progressed to Strategy Engineer and Simulation Development Engineer.

In 2016 she moved across to Williams Martini Racing as Performance Projects Team Leader.

The following year she switched to Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 – she started off as Race Strategy Engineer and was promoted to Head of Race Strategy at the end of 2018.

66. Rudy Kennedy

Kennedy was sent to Auschwitz in 1943 and was later moved to Mittelbau-Dora, where he worked on missile technology.

After a further move to Belsen-Belsen, he escaped in 1945.

He came to the UK the following year and worked for English Electric as a rocket scientist.

In 1973 Kennedy founded Digital Electronics, which specialised in medical electronics.

In the 1990s he founded the Association of Claims for Jewish Slave Labour Compensation.

He campaigned for reparations for those who had been subjected to forced labour, leading to the formation in 2000 of a foundation ('EVZ') that paid out to people in almost 100 countries.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

67. Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti

Founder of the Ferranti group of companies, Ferranti became Chief Engineer of the London Electric Supply Corporation in his early 20s.

He designed the Corporation's Deptford Power Station, which started operating in 1890 and was the first to output electricity at 10,000 V.

Ferranti was one of the first people to advocate large-scale power-generating stations sited outside of population centres.

He also established the principle of the national grid using AC (alternating current) transmission.

He was awarded the IET’s Faraday Medal in 1924.

Image courtesy of Diego Maeso

Image courtesy of Diego Maeso

68. Shrouk El-Attar

Fem-tech electronics engineer El-Attar is a human rights campaigner, particularly in refugee issues, LGBTQ+ rights, and diversity in STEM.

In 2018, El-Attar was recognised as one of the BBC's top 100 most influential women in the world.

She was awarded the 2020 Young Woman Engineering WES Prize for her commitment as a STEM Ambassador, ensuring that STEM is accessible for all and representative of those within the community.

Her popular podcast, Badass Engineering, features inspirational guests and aims to inspire the next generation and smash stereotypes.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

69. Sir Charles Kuen Kao

An electrical engineer, known for his work on fibre optic communications, Kao studied engineering at Woolwich Polytechnic and University College London.

He worked for Standard Telecommunication Laboratories where, with George Hockham, he pioneered the use of glass fibres and lasers to transmit digital data.

In 1970 Kao founded the electronics department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CHUK), becoming Professor of Electronics.

He later moved to the United States to work for ITT, where he was Director of Engineering.

He was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2009 for his work on fibre optics.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

70. Sir Charles William Siemens

Siemens was the engineer and industrialist who became the first President of the Society of Telegraph Engineers (now the IET).

In the 1840s he developed the open hearth furnace and regenerative condenser, for which he received a gold medal from the Society of Arts.

In 1858 he set up the firm of Siemens and Halske, which became Siemens Brothers.

He played a major role in the telegraph industry, helping to set up the London-Bombay telegraph network, and was a key figure in the emerging electric lighting and power industries.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

71. Sir Clive Sinclair

Sinclair was a prolific entrepreneur and inventor.

He launched Sinclair Radionics in 1961, specialising in pocket-sized radios and then hi-fi systems.

He produced the first slimline pocket calculator in 1972.

In the early '80s he launched the ZX80 (the first home computer to sell in the UK for under £100) and the hugely popular ZX Spectrum; and he founded Sinclair Vehicles, which manufactured the ill-fated Sinclair C5.

His impact on the UK personal computer industry was recognised in 1983 when he was awarded the Knight Bachelor.

Image courtesy of Science Photo Library

Image courtesy of Science Photo Library

72. Sir Frank Whittle

Whittle became a pilot officer in the Royal Air Force in 1928 and a flying officer in 1930.

Whittle was convinced of the need for better engines so that planes could fly at high altitudes and took out his first patent in 1930.

In 1935 he formed Power Jets Ltd, which developed the jet engine.

The first successful test flight was in 1941, and the Meteor (developed with Rolls-Royce) first flew in combat in 1944.

Whittle was knighted in 1948.

He emigrated to the USA in 1976 and was NAVAIR Research Professor at the United States Naval Academy from 1977 to 1979.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

73. Sir Frederic Williams

During the Second World War, Williams joined the Telecommunications Research Establishment, working on the development of IFF (Identification Friend or Foe), GEE (a radio navigation system), and OBOE (an aerial blind bombing system based on radio transponder technology).

After the war, he became Chair of Electro-Technics at the University of Manchester where, with Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill, he built the Manchester Baby (the first electronic stored-program digital computer).

In 1946 he and Kilburn invented the Williams tube, an electronic data storage device.

Williams was awarded the IET Faraday Medal in 1972 and the KBE in 1976.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

74. Sir Godfrey Hounsfield

Hounsfield was trained in electronics as an RAF reservist in the Second World War, then attended Faraday House Electrical Engineering College.

He joined EMI, where he helped to design the EMIDEC 1100 computer and became well known for developing X-ray computed tomography (CT).

The first medical CT scan took place in 1971 and he introduced the first whole-body scanner in 1975.

Hounsfield was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Allan McLeod Cormack.

He was knighted in 1981, and the Hounsfield unit of radiodensity is named after him.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

75. Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose

Physicist Bose was the first to work on millimetric radio waves.

He founded the Bose Institute, Asia's first interdisciplinary research institute, in 1917.

His research on microwaves, including the use of semiconductors, was decades ahead of its time.

Bose did not pursue any patents, concentrating instead on improving the theoretical knowledge of radio and biophysics.

He invented several instruments to measure the responses of plants to stimuli, concluding that these were like the nerve responses seen in animals.

Bose was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1920.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

76. Sir Joseph John Thomson

Thomson studied mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was made a Fellow in 1881.

Three years later he was appointed Professor of Experimental Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory where, in 1897, he discovered the first subatomic particle (later known as the electron) while working on cathode rays.

In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery.

He also identified the first non-radioactive isotopes and worked on the first experiments to use mass spectrometry.

Thomson was knighted in 1908.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

77. Sir Robert Watson-Watt

In 1916 Watson-Watt joined the Meteorological Office, where he explored the use of radio to detect thunderstorms.

In 1927 his radio team joined its counterpart at the National Physics Laboratory to form the Radio Research Station, with Watson-Watt as director.

In 1935, Watson-Watt, with his assistant Arnold Wilkins, wrote a report on detecting aircraft using radio waves.

After conducting trials that year, he became head of the new Bawdsey Research Station, managing the establishment of the Chain Home radars that played a major role in defending the UK against airborne attacks during World War Two.

Watson-Watt was knighted in 1942.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

78. Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Berners-Lee began his career as an engineer at the telecommunications company Plessey, but it was while working for CERN that he proposed using hypertext for information exchange.

By 1991 he had combined hypertext with the internet to create the World Wide Web and had developed the first web browser.

Berners-Lee went on to found the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at MIT and the World Wide Web Federation.

He has promoted open government data globally and campaigns on issues including net neutrality, privacy and the openness of the Web.

 

79. Sonam Wangchuk

In 1988, soon after completing his Mechanical Engineering degree, Wangchuk founded SEMCOL (Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh), which works to reform the government schooling system and helps village students with their education.

He also founded the SECMOL Alternative School Campus, a special school for students who failed their state exams.

Designed by Sonam, the entire campus is solar panelled – part of SECMOL's work is to develop techniques that use alternative energy sources.

Sonam also invented the Ice Stupa technique, which creates artificial glaciers that are used for storing winter water.

80. Sophie Wilson

Computer scientist Wilson first designed a microcomputer during a break from her studies at Cambridge.

She joined Acorn Computers in 1978 and was instrumental in designing the BBC Micro.

She also designed the ARM reduced instruction set computer (RISC), which is now the most widely used processor architecture in smartphones.

In 2011, she was listed in Maximum PC as number 8 in an article titled "The 15 Most Important Women in Tech History" and she was elected a Fellow of the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley in 2012.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

81. Stephen Hawking

In the 1980s, while he was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Hawking proposed a model of the universe with no beginning or end – the ‘no boundary’ model.

His theory of cosmology combines the general theory of relativity with quantum mechanics.

He achieved commercial success as the author of popular science books including A Brief History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell and A Briefer History of Time.

A Fellow of the Royal Society, Hawking was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Russian Special Fundamental Physics Prize.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

82. Steve Jobs

Businessman Jobs formed Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976, to sell Wozniak’s Apple I computer.

They would go on to develop the Macintosh in 1984.

Jobs left the company in 1985 and founded the platform development company NeXT, which later merged with Apple.

He also founded Pixar Animation Studios, which produced the world’s first computer-generated animated film, Toy Story.

Jobs re-joined Apple in 1997 and rescued it from bankruptcy, working with the designer Jonathan Ive on a ground-breaking range of products including the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad.

83. Susan Jones

Chartered engineer Jones has worked in the aerospace, automotive and steel industries.

She focuses on bringing people together to solve problems and to make improvements to machinery, processes and the way people work.

Jones is passionate about encouraging more women into STEM.

She set up the Steel Women's Network to bring together women and their allies, to inform and influence the role of women in steel.

And her commitment to promoting to schoolchildren stretches back to 2012.

Image courtesy of SWNS

Image courtesy of SWNS

84. Tal Golesworthy

Golesworthy invented the ExoVasc, a bespoke implant that manages aortic dilation.

His invention stemmed from the need to support his own heart and in 2004 he became the first patient to be implanted with his own invention.

Golesworthy is the Technical Director of Exstent, which manufactures the bespoke implants.

They are used in multiple surgical centres around the world.

Image courtesy of IET Archives

Image courtesy of IET Archives

85. Thomas Edison

Edison began his career as a telegraph operator.

In 1876 he set up the world’s first industrial research laboratory, which was located in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

A businessman and prolific inventor, he pioneered the development of many technologies including sound recording, electric light, electric power and film recording.

He took out over 1000 US patents, including the phonograph, the carbon microphone and the electric light bulb.

Image courtesy of BT Heritage + IET Archives

Image courtesy of BT Heritage + IET Archives

86. Tommy Flowers

Electrical engineer Flowers joined the telecommunications branch of the General Post Office (GPO) in 1926 and moved to the research station at Dollis Hill in 1930.

During the Second World War, he was asked to work with Alan Turing and Max Newman on codebreaking.

Flowers co-designed a machine known as Heath Robinson to help crack the Lorenz (‘Fish’) cipher.

This led to him developing the world's first programmable electronic computer, Colossus, using vacuum tubes.

After the war Flowers returned to Dollis Hill where he worked on the first all-electronic telephone exchanges.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

87. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci

Ganymed was the first company set up by married physicians and immunologists Şahin and Türeci.

It pioneered precision antibody therapies to treat cancer and was sold to Japanese pharma company, Astellas, for €1.4bn in 2016.

The couple founded BioNTech in 2008 with Austrian oncologist Christoph Huber to develop immunotherapy cancer treatments using mRNA.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Şahin and Türeci initiated Project Lightspeed, the development of the first mRNA vaccine for COVID-19.

The project moved from lab and clinical testing to conditional approval within an unprecedented 11-month period.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

88. Ursula Burns

In 2009, renowned businesswoman Burns became CEO of Xerox, having worked her way up as a summer intern in 1980.

She was the first black woman to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and the first woman to succeed another as head of a Fortune 500 company.

She holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2013 for technical and business leadership.

In 2009 the US President selected Burns to help lead the White House national programme, STEM Education Coalition.

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

89. Veena Sahajwalla

Sahajwalla is passionate about mining the mountains of rubbish and waste materials produced by modern society.

She is one of the world’s leading innovators in the use of sustainable materials.

As Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology at the University of New South Wales, Sahajwalla has engineered countless possibilities for reforming old materials into new and better ones.

She is renowned for 'green steel', having invented an environmentally friendly process for recycling plastics and rubber tyres in electric arc furnace steelmaking.

Image courtesy of Royal Academy of Engineering

Image courtesy of Royal Academy of Engineering

90. Vinita Marwaha Madill

Space engineer Madill worked at the European Space Agency on future human spaceflight projects.

In her Space Operations Engineer role, she focused mainly on the European Robotic Arm project.

She also worked as an International Space Station Payload Operations Engineer in the Microgravity User Support Centre at the German Aerospace Center.

In 2012 she founded Rocket Women, a global platform that aims to inspire women and minorities by giving advice on working in the space and technology industries and by providing scholarships for women in STEM.

Image courtesy of Corbis

Image courtesy of Corbis

91. Vint Cerf

While working at Stanford University, Cerf researched packet network interconnection protocols and co-designed the Department of Defense TCP/IP protocol suite with Bob Kahn.

He worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and then moved to MCI, where he was instrumental in developing the first commercial email system to be connected to the internet.

In 1992 he founded the Internet Society with Bob Kahn.

He became Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google in 2005.

92. Wai Yie Leong

Leong is passionate about diversity and inclusion. Much of her work focuses on promoting women engineers and advancing the engineering profession.

She has spoken at many prestigious events, including UNESCO meetings and the International Forum of NGOs.

Leong advises and contributes ideas to the Malaysia Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, as well as Academic Sciences Malaysia.

She has won numerous awards and sits on various committees, including the Board of Directors of the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists.

93. Walter Green

As a Telecom Chief Engineer, Green’s work included government legislation and the development of commercial data processing systems.

His patents and research led to the creation of the variable frequency single- and three-phase PWM bi-directional pulse system.

He won Western Australia's 2016 Professional Engineer of the Year Award and established the STEM-oriented Gamechangerawards to help teachers, students and parents understand the importance of STEM.

94. William Hunter Dammond

When Dammond completed his Civil Engineering degree in 1893, he was the first African American to graduate from his Engineering School.

He first taught mathematics, then moved to Detroit as an assistant bridge engineer for the Michigan Central Railroad.

He also worked as a bridge designer, draughtsman and engineer.

Dammond was passionate about rail safety throughout his career and patented inventions in train signalling, which replaced hand signalling with automatic signals.

These innovations considerably improved track safety and became known as the Dammond Circuit system.

Dammond also wrote many published pieces about train crashes and rail safety.

95. Yewande Akinola

A chartered engineer, innovator and public speaker, Akinola is passionate about the role of innovation, creativity, and engineering in the modern world.

She has a master's degree in Innovation and Design for Sustainability from Cranfield University and has worked on projects in the UK, Africa, the Middle East and East Asia.

Akinola joined the IET's Board of Trustees in 2019 and in 2020 she was awarded an MBE for her services to Engineering Innovation and Diversity in STEM.

In 2021, she was appointed InnovateUK Ambassador for Clean Growth and Infrastructure in 2021.